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Never Sleep Again (2010)
30th Jun 10
Prepare to feel older than Christopher Lee’s nutsack as everyone involved in the Freddy movies chips in to shape an overwhelmingly informative document of the horror saga. Except for Johnny Depp and Patricia Arquette, they were too busy doing Hollywood things like smoking crack and sticking gerbils up the asses of their under-paid Mexican maids. Tinseltown bastards.
What with all our short, tragic lives ticking away rapidly even as you waste valuable time reading this, four hours is a lengthy period to commit to something contained on a shiny disc - unless, of course, it happens to contain any of the following words: “Barely”, “Shaved” and “Pigtails”. In four hours you could watch the recent Nightmare On Elm Street remake twice in a row and still have time to stove your own head in with a heavy duty clog immediately afterward.
An infinitely more valuable use of a quarter of a day can be found with Never Sleep Again, an extensive, outstanding documentary devoted to the Freddy franchise from the makers of the very good Halloween 25 Years of Terror and the somewhat disappointing His Name Was Jason (where much of the best footage was to be found in the deleted scenes on disc 2 of the release). It sets a new standard for this kind of thing and, although host / producer Heather Langenkamp’s upcoming personalised, fan-centric documentary looks a lot of fun, it will likely remain the definitive audio-visual tribute to this memorable genre series.
The second most impressive aspect of Never Sleep Again is the sheer range of personnel tracked down from all eight Freddy movies. There’s no surprise that conspicuous by their absence are the too-famous likes of Johnny Depp, Patricia Arquette and Laurence Fishburne, but it’s a real giddy delight to see appearances from “Dream Warriors” crooners Dokken, the elusive Jsu Garcia (aka Nick Corri) and every other significant composer, special make up effects artist, actor, director, writer and cinematographer from the franchise. The first most impressive aspect of Never Sleep Again is just how brilliantly and slickly the talking heads footage (interspersed with a huge amount of deftly chosen movie clips) is put together, avoiding the pitfalls of lesser examples of this form and dispensing witty revelations by the ton.
This epic doc unearths a lot of stuff we never knew about the movies, teasing out frank revelations and honest remarks from just about everyone. We expect Robert Englund and Wes Craven to be intelligent, incisive and entertaining in their comments, but even more of a kicker is learning about the tensions, conflicts and hard-work-on-an-impossible-schedule from their colleagues. Each movie in the run is given its fair dues, with rare but considered and deserved praise heaped upon the under-valued mongoloids of the bunch : Freddy’s Revenge comes in for particular kudos (though no one denies its flaws) while Stephen Hopkins’ rescue job on the ludicrously rushed and much-rewritten The Dream Child seems even more impressive after viewing the segment about the fifth movie here.
Amidst the wealth of remarkable behind the scenes FX bits (inspiring much nostalgia for the practical FX era, especially now the CG-laced remake has come out) and deleted bits (including unrated footage from Dream Child and rarely seen stuff from Dream Warriors ) are some hilarious and poignant discussions.
New Line honcho Robert Shaye comes in for a lot of flak, and we are never in doubt about the people he upset en route to crafting the saga that made him rich. That said, the final moments of him reflecting on the series’ highs and lows, having been effectively booted out of the “mini-major” he built from the ground up, are genuinely moving. Ditto Renny Harlin’s touching reminisces of exactly how much the success of the uber-slick The Dream Master meant to him personally and professionally.
Director Chuck Russell is very interesting talking about fan favourite Dream Warriors, especially the project’s evolution from Craven’s nasty-minded original script. Veteran actor Clu Gulager is hysterical lamenting the lack of blow-jobs he received on the set of Freddy‘s Revenge . Meanwhile, his co-star Mark Patton - an openly gay actor cast in a mainstream horror movie from the AIDS era where most of the crew admit to not realising just how gay it obviously was - is wholly charming as he winces at his dancing in the movie and displays modest pride at his moment in the spotlight. (Everybody is compelling discussing this retrospectively fascinating second chapter, from brassy director Jack Sholder to amused / bemused gym teacher actor Marshall Bell)
Elsewhere we get to see what the creepy kids from Dream Child and New Nightmare look like now (the former looks like his creepy ten year old self albeit with facial hair and an even fucking creepier look!); key directors (Mick Garris, Tom McLoughlin, William Malone) weigh in with their thoughts on the cheaply produced cash-cow that was Freddy’s Nightmares ; John Skipp notes “It’s a boy” is the only line to survive from his Dream Child script; John “The Tiger” Saxon looks much like he did in 1984 and 1964 ; Jennifer Rubin doesn’t seem to be quite all there ; and Priscilla Pointer appears to be older than God (close, she’s 86).
There is, of course, a high curiosity factor in seeing all these folks three decades later, but prepare to be amazed at just how hot both Lisa Wilcox and Kim Myers look, while recoiling in horror at a fat Tuesday Knight, and a dodgy-looking Monica Keena, who now looks like an explosion in a liposuction factory. Most curious of all is a bizarre Leslie Deane, who appears in full horror make-up with a silent Goth chick by her side, looking like the documentary makers caught her immediately after her late shift at Helga’s House Of Pain. Uncomfortably gripping are her revelations of how the child-abuse scenes in the otherwise diluted Freddy’s Dead awakened her own repressed memories.
Like all the great documentaries and featurettes about the making of movies, this gives you renewed interest and appreciation for all the flicks it covers, even the ones that have always ranked as the weaker spots of the franchise. Kill someone - anyone! -to get back the money you wasted on the remake and spend it wisely on awesome horror nostalgia trip.